LPN programs are offered at many community colleges and technical schools and require students to complete much of their training in person. Coursework for an LPN program is generally more detailed than a CNA program’s curriculum, and will include subjects such as medication dosage and administration, pathophysiology, specialized care and legal and ethical issues in nursing.
Unlike CNAs, LPNs are required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN).
Learn more about CNA to LPN programs.
The mean annual salary for Certified Nursing Assistants was $26,590 in May 2016 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared to a mean annual salary of $44,840 for LPNs. Factors that may influence salary levels for both these professions include geographic location, type of employer and years of experience and education level. While in general CNAs make significantly less than LPNs, many nurses use their CNA experience as a stepping stone to further education and a higher paying nursing position.
See a complete state by state table to compare an LPN to a CNA salary.
CNA's and LPN's are both members of a patient’s care team, and may share some of the same daily tasks, which include basic patient care under the supervision of an RN. These tasks include:
While LPN's and CNA's do perform a few of the same tasks, LPNs provide more extensive patient care, while CNA's have a more limited scope of practice. Under the supervision of an RN, the LPN also performs the following job duties:
Alternatively, CNAs work under the supervision of an LPN or RN and provide only the most basic patient care. A CNA’s job responsibilities may include:
Both CNAs and LPNs are important members of the medical care team, and provide basic care to patients in a variety of settings. While the positions do share a few of the same basic job functions, the LPN provides more in-depth hands on patient care, while the CNA assists the LPN with a limited scope of job duties.
CNA's and LPN's also have different licensing and certification requirements for aspiring nurses to be aware of. LPN candidates are required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) following completion of their state-approved and accredited Practical Nursing program. Once candidates have passed this exam they may begin working as an LPN but first we would suggest considering the job description of an LPN.
CNA's are required to pass a competency exam for the state they practice in before they can begin working. Eligibility requirements for a CNA exam vary from state to state, but in general they include a high school diploma, completion of an accredited nursing assistant program and completion of a minimum number of CNA training hours. A CNA candidate also will need to provide the state with an immunization record, TB test results and a background check before sitting for the exam. Once candidates have passed the competency exam they may begin working as a CNA.